SAFFORD – Last Tuesday an officer responded to a residence on 9th Street in reference to a stolen vehicle. The victim reported that his 2008 Chevy truck had been stolen from his house that morning. He stated he had left town early that morning for work and his truck was parked on the West side of his house. The victim’s brother had driven past the residence around 7:00 am and noticed the truck was there at that time. The vehicle had recently been repainted. Paperwork was completed to enter the vehicle into the system as stolen.
Later the officer was contacted by the victim, reporting that one of his neighbors had a security camera that showed a male walking in front of the victim’s house several times and then enter his yard. The officer viewed the video footage and recognized the juvenile male entering the victim’s yard and going out of camera view where the truck was parked.
The following day, on Wednesday around 5:30 pm, the officer responded to the Safford Library where the stolen truck was located. The truck did not appear to be damaged. The officer noticed a camera at the library facing the truck. The video footage from the previous day showed the truck pull into the library parking lot at approximately 10:30 am. The male the officer recognized in the other video footage was seen getting out and walking away. It appeared to the officer that the male kept the keys and it was noticed he was wearing the same clothes as the day before when he was seen on the neighbor’s camera.
On Friday, the officer responded to a call regarding suspicious juveniles in the area of 10th Street and 12th Avenue. When the officer pulled in behind them, the recognized juvenile suspect seen in the video footage. He was wearing the same pants that he had on in the video. The officer asked the juvenile to come talk with him. The juvenile initially claimed that he hadn’t stolen the truck. The officer informed him there was video footage showing him taking it and parking it at the library.
The juvenile was taken to the police department and his mother was contacted and asked to meet them there. The juvenile stated he was at an acquaintance’s home and that a friend had called the truck owner to ask if the juvenile could use the truck. The juvenile stated that he didn’t actually hear the truck owner say it was okay, but claimed that his friend told him that the truck owner said it was okay. When asked, the juvenile stated he didn’t know where the keys were.
The officer informed the juvenile that the truck owner had already reported that he had not given permission for anyone to use his truck. The officer then asked why the juvenile had parked it at the library and not tell the owner. After thinking for a moment, the juvenile stated that it was because the truck was out of gas and could not go any further because the needle was on “E”. After the officer stated that it wasn’t a very believable story, the juvenile then stated that he worked for the owner and that he had several business cards that would prove that. However, the officer pointed out that the truck had the cards in it when the juvenile took it. The officer asked the juvenile where he went in the truck, and he responded that he went to his Aunt’s house in Pima to ask to borrow some money. The juvenile stated he thought the truck owner wouldn’t mind if he used the truck. The officer asked him if he had a driver’s license, and the young man said, “kind of.” The officer asked him what that meant, and he stated that he was going to take the test. The officer asked the young man if he thought the truck owner would be okay loaning his truck to someone he barely knows, without a driver’s license. The juvenile said, ‘yes.’
After the juvenile spoke with his mother and grandma, he agreed to take the officer to where the keys were. They went to the bottom of the canal between 5th and 6th Avenue where the juvenile stated he threw the keys in the weeds. The officer searched for a while and eventually located the keys in the weeds on the north side of the canal.
When the officer spoke with Juvenile probation, they advised the officer that the juvenile could be released pending charges as an adult in the next few weeks. The juvenile was released to the care of his mother. The officer later was able to return the keys to the truck owner who stated the juvenile never had permission to take his truck.